A couple of years ago a group of researchers released a study in which they discussed “divorce clusters”. From that, many have talked about divorce being contagious. Some of the findings of the study:
“They concluded this after finding that when close friends break-up, the odds of having their own marital split increased by 75%. They also found that people who have divorced friends in their larger social circles are 147% more likely to get a divorce than people who have friends still married. People with divorced siblings are 22% more likely to divorce. The study even revealed the contagion of divorce among co-workers could be as much as 55% in small companies.“
I agree with the idea that something like divorce is socially contagious, but I see the same being true for good marriages. In part, it’s about permission – permission to divorce, or permission to be more loving. There is also the power of peer pressure – living up to or down to the norm for your group. It may also be that seeing a divorce in a marriage we thought was good makes us doubt our own marriage.
If your marriage is not as good as it should be, I would suggest you need to assess your friendships. You need plenty of time with those who have strong marriages, and limited time with those who are in trouble. On the other hand, if your marriage is strong, then help those who are struggling by spending some time with them.
Am I suggesting you ditch a friend because their marriage is in trouble? No, but if a lot of your friends have significant marriage problems, maybe you need to figure out why those are the people you seem to be attracted to. Are you looking for a group that won’t call you on your marriage problems, or that will not say anything if your marriage craters? Are those friends pulling your marriage down?
If you see a lot of marriage turmoil, or divorce, in those close to you, I’d see it as a serious warning sign. It’s telling you that it’s time to make your marriage more of a priority.